GPS/GNSS : Machine Control & Site Positioning System

In 2019 Peter Lapidus Construction integrated a GPS/GNSS site positioning and machine control system into our business.

This system allows us to offer a higher degree of accuracy and efficiency on projects to our clients than was ever contemplated in the past. In addition clients save on survey cost as we can perform work without the need for constant calls for the survey staking of the site. This saves the client on the overall project cost and gets the project finished faster.

When we take on a project where this technology is applicable, we start by converting site plans from a CAD drawing into a 3D model. Once this is done the model is loaded into our equipment. The equipment consists of two main items that can operate independently of each other.

The person on the ground has a site positioning instrument called a rover. They are able to walk or drive the site and locate the features shown on the plans to within plus or minus .03’ on horizontal and vertical alignments typically. They are able to “as built” the items we are installing such as pipe elevations or other buried utilities. We generally call this “rovering”. We can easily come back and locate those marked spots. The rover also provides cut fill information as well as a multitude of other useful features. The saved information can be downloaded and shared with others for future design or other uses.

The machine we currently run this automated system on is a Caterpillar D5K2 with dual slope boards. This is a mastless system meaning the antennas are mounted on the cab of the machine not the blade. The machine has multiple IMU’s (inertial measurements units) that monitor the position of all aspects of the machine and compute where the cutting edge of the machine is in relation to the antennas, base station & model. This provides a real time image in 3D and other views on the screen in the machine of the orientation of the machine on the jobsite model. It also tells the operator what his cut/fills and line offsets. The operator makes selections on the screen to accomplish the grade objective he desires at the current stage of work. Once selected the machine automatically controls the elevation of the blade to match the design models finish elevations. There is no need to have a grade checker on the ground communicating with the machine operator. The machine can cut pads, slopes, swales and more.

Our operators have countless hours using this system and have become very adept at efficiently providing accurately graded sites with no survey staking except for initial control. In addition we have a box blade attachment for spreading road base & other materials so they do not spill beyond the limits.

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